Today begins the pilgrimage through North Carolina/Florida for the Charles Wesley Singers. Our theme is One in Christ Jesus and our T-shirts and water bottles will remind us daily because they’ve got the logo on them. We gathered for checking in at 7:30 am and everyone was prompt! And the weather was terrific - so things are off to a great start.
Tour 2018 got underway with a preliminary section check and blessing from retiring pastor David Cooney in the sanctuary. He reminded us all that we may not know the impact we will have but that God will use us to reach others while we travel together, singing and sharing. We gave David a standing ovation for his pastorship at DUMC and then headed for the bus. Our fleet of 3 vehicles got on the road about 8:20 am.
Paul Lopez is our driver again this year, and we are so thankful for him. Thanks to the Tregoning family for use of their Terp Van, and the Baldridge’s minivan is making the trip and will hence be known as the Duck Van because of the lovely duct tape that graces the left rear fender. Very special.
We always share a greeting when we first board the bus, and this year’s first greeters were Connor Dennie and Angela Nardone, as determined by a spin of the famous greeting wheel.
Tom Baldridge opened his comedy act on the bus microphone today - material ranged from lessons from previous tours to septic system discussions to the time value of money. Lots of good material.
New bus entertainment this year will be Fruit Facts by Sydney Fennington and Torie Brooks. Today we learned that strawberries have about 200 seeds and also were believed to have healing properties by the ancient Greeks. They suggested, however, that all medicine issues on our trip be handled by Liz Elliott and our team. The report was deemed “berry informative” by Steve Kalnoske.
Brian LaRosa, our resident train expert, told us about the logo of a sleeping cat on the Chessie System trains and encouraged all to “have a good little nap, my little Chessie kittens.”
Many did nap on the bus - many played cards and video games, ate lunch, listened to music. We stopped at the Virginia Rest-stop on I 85 for a few minutes. Some folks played a minute of football, and Arthur Hulcher stood bravely atop the water cooler to sweep a broom across the top of the bus and dislodge the football that got stuck.
Back on the bus, Katie Elliott and David Hembrough greeted us all, spreading goodwill from the front to back of the bus. We also sang happy birthday to Reid Taylor who turns 15 today.
We arrived safely in Charlotte, NC, at about 4 pm. First UMC is a tremendous structure, in size and scale - someone told us the entire place is the size of two Walmart stores put together. The church’s four floors are like a maze filled with countless unique spaces for ministry are a wonderful tapestry of welcoming messages.
Lots of personal connections were made in a Charlotte, too. Many tour members were united with family and friends who live in Charlotte, and Caleb and Anna Mae Black joined up with us at First UMC. Our number is now 63 people!
We had some free time to investigate the building and then gathered at 5 pm for rehearsal in the sanctuary. Our three treble soloists for the Chichester Psalms were together for the first time and sang so well, as did the whole choir as we figured out where to stand and configure ourselves. Dinner was at 6 pm - Our hosts are very lovely and welcoming and prepared a wonderful meal. We had lasagna, salad, and brownies and pound cake for dessert. Also we sang happy birthday to Reid Taylor again and he blew out all 15 candles in one breath. This is the benefit of singing of course - increased lung capacity!!
Everyone looked dapper in formal concert attire, and we began singing at 7:30 pm. We had never sung start to finish through the whole program, so it was a special night, and the audience was most responsive. Highlights (from Polly’s perspective) were the Chichester Psalms coming together well, John Hoffpauir’s saxophone solo that we all heard for the first time tonight, choir members smiling broadly when a wrong note or two sounded, soloists getting the whole group excited, and the way that sound just pours out of the choir when they get excited. Miraculous really!
We will sing at First UMC again in the morning so I had to smile when our folder cleanup crew was so efficient that the music was all cleaned up and packed up by the van before I had a chance to remind them we need the folders in the morning. But people are taking their roles seriously, and for that we are grateful.
Pastor Val Rosenquist and other church staff have bent over backwards to accommodate us, and some of our group are staying overnight on mattresses at the church and will awaken in time to serve at a community breakfast. Others of us are in a hotel tonight, and still others went with host families. Hopefully all are asleep as I sign off!
Good night - until tomorrow.
Click Here for Photos from Day 1
Click Here for Video from the Day 1 Concert